Floral Meridian Dress

I always love it when Papercut Patterns release a new collection, even though it means I have to immediately re-arrange my entire sewing list to accommodate the new patterns that jump to the top of my queue! This time I was lucky to get a sneak peek of the patterns- I responded to an Instagram tester call, and made up the Sierra Jumpsuit. It’s a super cool pattern, but that’s not what I’m posting about today! I haven’t moved past the muslin stage with the jumpsuit yet, but once the collection was released I nabbed myself a copy of the beautiful Meridian Dress and immediately sewed it up for my upcoming work Christmas party.

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The dress came together really easily, but has some clever techniques and drafting to make the front wrap portions of the dress. I did have a bit of trouble figuring out how to shorten the bodice, as the front pattern piece is a pretty weird shape, and I probably didn’t do the best job, but when it’s all wrapped up it’s hard to tell if there’s anything amiss! I considered using french seams to sew this up, but in the end I just went with overlocking them and pressing them open. I wouldn’t have been able to use a french seam for the centre front or back seams, so I figured I might as well treat them all the same! I did the hems with a blind hem stitch on my machine, I love that finish.

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I think the back is just as pretty as the front! The invisible zipper finished half way up the back bodice, leaving a keyhole and button and loop to close the top of the dress. I used a small fabric covered button, and I think it’s turned out pretty cute! I really like the length of the ties as well, they’re really well proportioned with the length of the skirt. The pleats on the front and back skirt help to give it enough wearing ease and swishy-ness to be comfortable, but the skirt still feels slim and modern to me.

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Before I saw the patterns I had bought myself a length of this gorgeous Atelier Brunette viscose pique from Miss Maude Fabrics, and once I saw the patterns I knew it would be a perfect match for the Meridian dress! It was lovely to sew with, it’s really light and floaty but also fairly stable. It didn’t seem to want to slip off the table or out from under my pins like some silky fabrics do! I do wonder if it camouflages the details of the pattern a bit though, the wrap front and the pleats in the skirt aren’t as obvious as they would be in a smaller print or a plain fabric. And I’ve only just noticed that I’ve cut the front skirt piece upside down to the rest of the pieces, I didn’t think the print was directional but those big pale pink loopy flowers are definitely up the other way on the rest of the dress!

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I’ve been playing around with different ways to wear the wrap front, the top picture is just wrapped around my waist as shown in the sample photos, but the second picture is the ties knotted together in the front and then tied in the back. I really like the second way as well, it’s hard to tell in the photos but it gives the bodice a slightly looser, more blousy fit and changes the overall silhouette of the dress.

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I love this dress! I love the shape and the length and the sleeves, I love the weight of the fabric and the print and the colours. I feel really good in it, and I know I’m going to get a bunch of wear out of it! Now I’ve just got to get going with my Sierra Jumpsuit, and also the Palisade Pants…and maybe the Pinnacle top too…

 

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A Christmassy Eve

I know, I know, it’s only the middle of November, I have no business posting about any Christmas things so early. But my work Christmas do was yesterday (maybe the venue was all booked up on more appropriate Christmas party dates?), and I really wanted to wear this dress, so I’ve had to be super organised…

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This is the Sew Over It Eve dress, a woven wrap dress with the front gathered onto yokes at the shoulder, and with awesome 1970’s flutter sleeves. There is the option for a high-low hem, but I opted for the straight hem from version 2 of the pattern. There is a lot to like about this pattern, the wrap front fits beautifully with the gathering above the bust, and the wrap edge is shaped just right to sit close against the body without gaping.

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See how well that neckline sits? The instructions give you specific measurements for how long each front edge, yoke piece and back neckline half should be, so that you can ease it onto a length of twill tape, which I thought was brilliant. I feel nice and secure in this bodice, not like it’s going to fly open at any moment! I’ve never managed to find a wrap dress which fits my weird short torso without gaping open, so I’m super happy with the fit of this one.

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I feel pretty safe in the skirt too, the underskirt is the full width of the bodice so hopefully that’ll mean fewer wind-related incidents, even in Wellington. I made the size 10, which is where my measurements put me, and made no changes to the pattern. I might yet go back and take a tiny bit of length off the bodice, I’m undecided. I quite like the slightly bloused look, I think it suits the romantic, vintage vibe this dress has, but I’m also concerned that it might grow a bit over time, with the weight of the skirt hanging from it.

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The fabric is a Telio rayon challis from Fabric.com. It’s lovely and smooth and floaty, but it is a bit sheer. It was pretty easy to sew with, I used a microtex needle and my silk pins to keep it all under control. The hardest part was leveling the hem! I let it drop for nearly a week, and it was 3” longer at the side seams than at the front edges of the skirt. I find leveling hems a challenge, even with my dressmakers dummy and a hem ruler. It’s like cutting your own hair, it always ends up shorter on one side! Eventually I got it pretty much even, though when I wear it it looks less even than it does on the mannequin. I’m going to blame that on the way I’ve tied the wrap, and on how I’m standing.

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In the end, I didn’t wear this dress to the Christmas lunch after all, it was way too cold and windy! I came home and decided to take some photos of it anyway, so if I’m looking more cheerful (manically cheesy) than usual in these pictures that’s because I’d had a few glasses of wine before getting the camera out…

Is anyone else doing some very early Chrismas sewing or attending any premature Christmas events? Tell me I’m not alone!

 

1960’s party dress

I’ve finally finished the second part of my Vintage Pattern Pledge, a party dress made from a vintage Simplicity pattern which I found at a local vintage store. I was sure it was an early 1960’s pattern ( I looked it up when I bought it, and was sure it was 1961 or 62), but I’ve just checked the vintage pattern wiki and they have it down as being first released in 1959. I’m still going to call it a 1960’s drss though, as the pattern wouldn’t have made it to New Zealand until then!

  

I bought this pattern for the gorgeous stepped neckline, but the whole pattern is really lovely. Vintage patterns have the best details! I had expected that there would be some serious fitting work to do before starting on my final dress, and I made an unprecidented two muslins before cutting into my final fabric. Two! It was worth it though. The pattern is a single pre-cut size, as most patterns of the era are, and it was a size below what I would have made up. I had no idea what the ease in vintage big 4 patterns was like, so my first muslin was made up exactly from the pattern. Once I tried that on  I had a better idea of where I needed to make changes, and came up with the following list:

  • Increase width at the waist by 1/2 an inch on both front and back bodice pieces and skirt pieces, blending to nothing at the bust dart and at the mid thigh
  • Remove 1 1/2 inches from bodice length
  • Take 5 inches off the skirt (ladies in the 1950s/60’s must have been giants!)
  • Take 3/8 of an inch off the raglan seam at the back neckline, blending to nothing after 1 1/2″inches 
  • Shorten bust darts

I then made up another muslin, and decided it was pretty good!

  

It looks especially good with a black bra and tights…

The bodice fitted surprisingly well across the bust and shoulders, considering I made no changes there other than taking that small wedge out of the back neckline to combat gaping. The darts are perhaps not pointing in exactly the right place, but they’re ok. 

  

Finally I took a deep breath and cut into this much adored length of fabric. I’ve tried to match this fabric to several patterns since I bought it from The Fabric Store last year, its caused me some grief! Originally I wanted to make a Republic Du Chiffon Madeleine dress out of it, but when I tried to gather a scrap of it it just bunched and looked terrible. Its a silk/wool blend from Tory Burch, and is reasonably hefty with quite a stiff hand. I’m glad I decided to go with somethng more structured rather than persevering with my original plan!

  

I did have a wee bit of trouble with two parts in the instructions, the lapped zip and the vent. I had to pull out my Readers Digest Sewing Guide for the zip, and I just did my own thing for the vent! I really struggled to get the side lapped zip in neatly (you can see it in the side seam above), so I ended up hand picking it. The overlap is probably too wide, next time I’ll try to make it a bit more narrow and subtle. I was a bit worried that my hand stitching wouldn’t be as strong either, but it held up ok!

  

I must say, I was rather surprised by just how shapely this dress makes me look! Got to love a wiggle dress. My trouble with the vent stemmed from my decision to line the whole dress, and I didn’t think to look up how to modify the shape of the vent for the lining (the pattern is unlined). But the time I realised I was going to have trouble, it was too late for me to change what I had done, so I just fudged it. Not the most perfect piece of sewing I’ve ever done, but it’ll do!

  

 I used some deep red bias tape to finish the hem of the skirt and sleeves. I love the flash of bright colour that you can see inside the sleeves sometimes!

 

The best part of this dress is the shape of the upper bodice though. The sleeves are two piece raglan sleeves, and they’re so beautifully shaped, while the neckline is so pretty! Something I really noticed while making this was how it seemed to be designed to fit on a real, 3D form. I would have had huge trouble pressing the bodice without the assisance of a tailors ham, and pinning and pressing the neckline facing would have been a nightmare without it! So often modern patterns seem to be made up of flat shapes, this was a very different fitting and sewing experience. I used silk organza to interface the whole facing, and then added an extra layer at the front raglan edges to try and keep those points flat. It worked surprisingly well, the points only rolled outwards if there was downward tension on the lining, which was eay to fix with a few stitches through the facing at the raglan seams!

  

This dress has been a total labour of love, I don’t think I’ve ever put so much effort into a dress before! I’m glad I did though, I would have been gutted if I had done anything less with this fabric. I wore it to the wedding of some of our good friends yesterday, and had the most lovely day. The weather was perfect, sunny and crisp (and no wind!), and the location was absolutely stunning, and it was just a beautiful, happy day!